Monday, January 26, 2009

A Healthy Dose of Color!

Add color to your home with confidence. No need to “Cover the Earth” as the old Sherwin Williams phrase goes. That ominous red "goo" looks so wrong in today's green-minded world! The irony in the use of RED is that it is the opposing color to GREEN on the color wheel...So appropriately give your walls a fresh and healthy dose of color...and GO GREEN!

Breathe easier with ZERO VOC paint alternatives to the traditional, smelly and harmful latex paints.

What is off-gassing? You know it, because you can smell it from typical latex paints. It is the effect of VOC’s, Volatile Organic Compounds, harmful gases emitted from liquids & solids, typically found in latex paints. A VOC is a certain type of carbon compound that reacts with nitrous oxides in the air and actually creates harmful ground-level ozone. VOC’s linger in the air long after a project is finished, and are found in much higher concentrations indoors than outdoors - more reason to opt for ZERO VOC alternatives when applying a new paint job to your interior.

My fiancé and I were ready to give our old house a much needed make-over by adding a shot of color to our interior walls. Our color inspiration ranged from greens to golds. We chose a peaceful green tea hue for the living room to enduce rest and relaxation. And chose an appetizing mustardy gold for the dining room to evoke comfort and indulgance. Fortunately, it was one stop shopping at Home Depot, as we were lucky enough to find FRESH AIRE CHOICE paints there.

For our gold, we chose the warm and inviting Perennial Gold, and for our Green, the soft and soothing Northern Pear Tree. FRESH AIRE CHOICE offers a modest color palette of 65 hues, which actually made it easier to choose from a more concise range. This nature-inspired pallette has a modern feel and made a perfectly balanced backdrop to our colorful home décor.

There are a surprising number of low and ZERO VOC paint companies out there!
Visit their websites for store locators, or online sales. Many offer exterior paints as well.

Average price on a gallon is around $35-$55 depending on the brand.
Here are some more fresh choices:

MYTHIC offers a huge range of colors from Brights to Earthtones, black and white. In a variety of finishes from flat to high gloss. They can match competitors’ colors, too. So if you fall in love with a no-no latex paint, send them a chip and they’ll match it.

SAFE COAT is zero VOC and contains no harmful preservatives, chemicals, or heavy metals. It utilizes molecular technology that actually seals surfaces, eliminating “off-gassing”. There are over 1000 colors to choose from. They also offer stains, sealers, clear finishes, and safe cleaners, too. Available in the NorthEast at Green Depot
Safe Building in the Midwest, and Living Green on the West Coast. Visit their website to find the nearest store.

For an "instant" eclectic alternative, "just add water" to REAL MILK PAINT. Use it to brighten walls, enhance floors, or finish decks, and it is a wonderful way to repaint new or antique wood furniture. For a rustic feel, it allows the natural beauty of the wood to come through. Visit their website to see pictures of proud customer’s creative home projects.

Hailing from Sweden, ALLBACK ORGANIC LINSEED OIL paints boast a 1000 year old history, and their claim to fame is a 50 year longevity on their exterior paints. Interior paints, linseed oil based stains and waxes available, too. Viking Sales is the sole distributor in the United States, as is not available in stores. Order direct online as they ship anywhere in North America.
They also offer a remarkable safe way to remove paint utilizing infrared technology:
And certified organic cleaning products, too:

BIOSHIELD based in New Mexico offers solvent-free paints, and interesting alternatives to decorative wall touches such as color washes, clay paints, clay plaster, and milk paints, too For a truly southwestern
inspired appearance, play with clay paints and plasters. Get a pint for about $10 to test a paint color before you commit. Nontoxic stains, natural brushes, and healthy cleaners are also available.

AMERICAN PRIDE PAINT was created right here in the U.S.A. at the University of Southern Mississippi. Originally developed by polymer scientists for the US Department of Defense, the goal was to eliminate offgassing in tradition latex paints. The concept received so much media coverage that the public asked where could they get in on this for their own homes. Features over 940 colors and color-matching service.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


After featuring how to detox and cleanse yourself after the holidays and housework, it’s time to focus on safe products for cleaning your home.

I was appauled by a Clorox Bleach commercial featuring their cleaning products in a kid’s classroom in order to prevent the spread of germs. Well, chlorine bleach is one of the most toxic chemicals you could expose a child’s delicate system to. Again, we as “average” Americans are getting their information from advertisers, when their goal is to sell – not to educate!

I am happy to report also, that even the Clorox Company has started a line called “Green Works.” Now again, I was weary, as they are a big corporate company, and just because it says “natural” on the label, it could be an advertising ploy. But alas! I read the contents and it contains plant and mineral based cleaning agents that are biodegradable, and not tested on animals. It contains no phosphorus and no bleach. No Bleach! The very company that is synonymys with bleach is developing products without it! My fiancé and I have tested it, it works just as well as the other toilet bowl cleaners that contain bleach. We also live in a neighborhood with one huge mainstream grocery store, and was surprised they carried some of the newest eco-friendly brands like Method.

And well, you have to take a moment to realize what this really means in the bigger scope of things. It means that the bigger corporate companies are changing, because of where we as consumers are putting our dollars. It just goes to show, that our buying power IS changing the way even the big corporate companies function! I know as an individual you may think, “well, I’m just one person,” or “my neighbor is still using the harmful stuff, so his crap is going down the drain while my eco friendly is mixing with it.” Well, if we keep making choices otherwise, can you imagine one day when the government bans Chlorine and that neighbor will have no other choice! So let’s show those companies what products are the right ones now, and for future generations.

So here is a concise explanation of dangerous chemicals found in cleaning products, and a list of the “green” ones. Pull out all those cleaning products from your cabinets and read the labels. Of course after you have deduced what is safe and what is toxic, the dilema is what to do with it: either use it up, donate it to a local church…? as you don’t just want to dump down the drain. Well, that choice is up to you, and simply making the commitment not purchase them any more is a huge first step. If this seems all new to you, carry with you the next time you shop the list of harmful contents and names of companies that are eco-friendly…and become an avid label reader! This is the BEST way to make educated purchasing decisions.

Avoid these harmful chemicals:
Alkylphenol Ethoxylate - is a “stain remover” – harmful to immune system & disrupts hormones
Ammonia – poisonous when swallowed, eye, nose & throat irritant, lethal gas when mixed with bleach
Glycol Ether aka Butyl Cellosolve – damages nervous system, bone marrow, and the kidney and liver. The EPA Clean Air Act has classified as hazardous air pollutant
Chlorine Bleach – emits a poisonous gas, is an eye, nose, throat, skin, and lung irritant, harmful. May damage immune and reproductive systems. Is harmful to our water systems and rivers and lakes when washed down the drain

Formeldehyde - highly toxic & a known carcinogen
Phenol - suspected carcinogen, fatal if swallowed
Phosphates – harmful to the environment and our water supplies: when drained into lakes algae over-produce and consume the phosphates, then microorganisms consume the algae depleating water of oxygen resulting in lakes and rivers drying up! – found in dishwashing liquids and laundry detergents
Sodium Hydroxide – eye, nose, and throat irritant: found in drain, metal and oven solutions

Sodium Laurel Sulfate - a common "de-greaser" is a carcinogen, toxin, genetic mutagen

And “terms” that are not natural or necessarily safe:
Antibacterial – strips away your bodies’ natural defenses to protect against germs
Fragrance – is usually artificial, or petrochemicals
Nontoxic – is not a term verified by the government
All-Natural – again, sometimes it’s an advertising ploy – READ THE CONTENTS

I call this the safety zone:
Here is a list of more environmentally-friendly ingredients:
Look for:
Enzymes - instead of phosphates or solvents

Plant-based surfactants
Coconut oil
Vegetable-based cleansing agents

Liquid castile soap
Vegetable glycerin
photo:Sacremento Magazine, Beth Baugher

Here is an entire list of Eco-Friendly Cleaning Companies and Products:
(There are so many,
and so many more I have yet to discover, I'm sure!)
Green Works by Clorox
Mrs. Meyers
Solay Simple

Timothy Corrigan Home Care
Orange Glo
Bon Ami

Daddy Van’s

Click on any of the company's websites above, they provide a store finder to find where products are sold. Some of them offer free samples & coupons, too! Or you can order directly online from their website and they may offer a discount on shipping. Most are available at great discount prices on &

Start smart, Start simple with the ECOS Kitchen Starter Kit, includes 4 products for under $20!*pictured above*

The “greenest” you can go – is truly all natural, the most environmentally friendly list:
Mix with water, put into empty spray bottles and create your own, effective, truly all natural cleaners:
White Vinegar – mix half and half with water for all surfaces, (except wood) Best for windows! Lemon Juice – add to vinegar to cut the sour smell – lemon juice is anti-bacterial too!
Baking Soda – a good scrubbing powder for sinks, tiles, and bathtubs & absorbs odors
Borax - an "oldie but a goodie" - brightens laundry (instead of bleach), use as toilet bowl cleaner, too. My mother used this, and my grandmother, too!
Hydrogen Peroxide – great degreaser and natural sanitizer. It is considered an oxygen cleaner, great for cleaning for wood or plastic cutting boards
Olive Oil – great for polishing wood
Lemon Oil – wood polish, smells great too!

Other quick tips:

No more sponges! – they harbor bacterias & mold, use organic cotton wash-cloths instead
Avoid paper towels! – use old cotton knit tshirts as rags to wipe things clean. Then wash & re-use them again and again. If you can't kick the paper towel habit, at least buy them unbleached. Or use biodegradable wipes by Method & Green Works.

WANT YOUR "ECO" VOICE HEARD? Sign petitions against companies who continue to use harmful chemicals, host a "green cleaning party", and to get more information on safe cleaners go to this amazing website: Women's Voices for the Earth:

Happy Healthy Cleaning for the New Year!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What a better way to ring in the New Year than to focus on your temple, your body...that is. After the stress of the holidays, it’s time to take a moment and simply pamper yourself, re-energize for those new home projects you’re lining up in 2009! I’m in the process of tackling a new paint job with my fiancé to add some much needed punch of color to our home. We have been blessed with the passing down of his parents’ house to us. And as we’re getting down and dirty with renovations I’m always relieved after a project is complete to revel in the fabulous results, and to bathe and wash away the grime of a hard day’s work down the drain! It’s been a real work in process over the last year, and what really has inspired the launching of this blog. Making improvements in keeping with environmentally friendly design and material choices…the results of that will be posted up here soon!

But first, let’s focus on pampering your temple, your body.

The inspiration for taking a closer look at my own skin regime was thanks to Sophie Uliano’s new book “Gorgeously Green”. I was delighted to have received it as a Christmas gift from my future mother-in-law, as she knows I’m on the path to making my life healthier, and “greener”. Uliano outlined a very well researched chapter on all skin care products for him, for her, and for baby. It was from reading her book that inspired me to take a closer look at what I’ve been considering a simple, clean routine and surprised at what was in my products…and changed to some new organic products.

A great routine for these drying winter months is a cleansing lotion for face, a gentle exfoliant rids your skin of dirt & old cells that won’t leave your face too dry or red, and a hydrating lotion.

Jurlique is known for its all organically grown and formulated skin care products. I am the balancing Cleansing Lotion. Their “biodynamic blends” are made of herbs and flowers from certified organic and biodynamic farms in South Australia.

Caudalie Paris Hydrantant Radiance Day Fluid SPF8
The secret? The grape! Yes, the grape seed contains polyphenols- one of the most powerful anti-oxidants freeing your skin of free radicals. It boasts no parabens or phenoxyethenol, no mineral oils are artificial colorings, and no sodium laurel sulfate. I’m using it now, it leaves the most amazing natural glow to your visage.

The SPLURDGE – Tracie Martyn Enzyme Exfoliant
Is the most gorgeous color aqua blue and contains pineapple and papaya enzymes. The only reason I justified my splurge on this one, is also to test out what I’ll be using before my wedding day this coming May…and it is something “blue”…afterall! Trust me, you’re worth it!

And none of the above companies tests on animals, nor uses ingredients derived from our fellow furry friends.

It’s really easy to get free samples by being super friendly and honest with the sales associate. I simply stated I’m doing research before purchasing, and she gave me a some.

Here is a cohesive list of well researched ingredients thanks to Uliano that should be avoided as they may be carcinogens or allergins:

Coal Tar
Lead and Mercury
Mineral Oils
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Polyethylene Glycol
SD-40 Isopropyl Alchohol
Tocopherol Acetate
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats)
Cationic Surfactants
Benzyl Alcohol
Silicone Derived Emollients

The best exercise Uliano suggests is to pull all your products from your bathroom including soap, shampoo, deodorant, shower gels, lotions, skin care products, cosmetics, etc… and scan those labels for any of the above ingredients, and make note of what not to purchase and use on your precious body any more!

For more explanation on each ingredient listed above, and why categorized as harmful, go to And roam Sopie Uliano’s website for more amazing info on going green beautifully!

Ring in the New Year revived and refreshed!
at top photo credit: the White Barn Inn & Spa, Kennebunkport, Maine